The 2019 NFL season ended with Patrick Mahomes leading his third consecutive come-from-behind victory after trailing by double digits, leading to Andy Reid finally getting that Gatorade bath he so totally deserved. Now, it is time time to turn our attention to the future.
This is a pivotal offseason for the Chicago Bears. Everyone from the front office, coaching staff, to the last player on the roster has a ton at stake in 2020. And there is no doubt that the ground work for a successful year begins with a strong offseason.
Here are the most important dates on the NFL calendar that Bears fans and the rest of the NFL should keep an eye on.
Today – Waiver system opens up.
February 11 – Starting at 11 a.m., teams can sign players whose Canadian Football League contracts have expired. (Note: Players under contract to a CFL team for 2020 or have an option for the 2020 season are not eligible.)
February 24 to March 2 – NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
February 25 – First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 10 – Deadline for teams to designate Franchise or Transition players is 3 p.m.
March 16 to March 18 – Starting at 11 a.m. CT, teams can begin to contact and enter contract negotiations with certified player agents whose players will become unrestricted free agents upon their deals expiring on March 16. It’s the “legal tampering” period! (Note: Contracts cannot be signed with a new club until 3 p.m. on March 18).
March 18 – Happy League New Year! Teams must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents with expiring contracts, and to whom they want to retain compensation/right of first refusal by 3 p.m.
- All teams must be under the 2020 salary cap prior to 3 p.m.
- Teams must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to players with expiring 2019 contracts and who have accrued fewer than three seasons of free agency credit before 3 p.m.
- All 2019 player contracts expire at 3 p.m. and free agency begins
- The official NFL trading period begins at 3 p.m.
Kyle Fuller restructured his contract to give the Bears some breathing room under the cap, but GM Ryan Pace still has some work to do.
March 29 to April 1– Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida.
April 6 – Teams that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2019 regular season may begin offseason workout programs. That means the Cowboys, Panthers, Giants, Browns, and Redskins will get a head start in 2020.
April 20 – The Bears and the other NFL teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 17 – Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
April 23 to April 25 – NFL Draft in Las Vegas. The Cincinnati Bengals own the first overall selection and are on the clock. As for the Bears, they don’t have a first-round pick. HOWEVER, they have two second-rounders (and ample possibilities to choose from).
April 27 – Teams can request permission to visit with, try out, or sign any player who was under contract to the XFL at the conclusion of the XFL’s season. (Yes, the XFL is back.)
May 1-4 or 8-11 – Bears host their three-day post-Draft rookie mini-camp.
May 4 – Deadline for teams to exercise Fifth-Year Options for first-round picks from the 2017 NFL Draft class. (Looking at you, Mitchell Trubisky.)
May 5 – Deadline for teams to send “May 7 Tender” to its own unsigned unrestricted free agents. If that player hasn’t a contract with the team by July 22 (or the first day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later), the player can negotiate or sign the contract until the Tuesday after the Week 10 … but only with their prior club.
May 11 – Rookie Football Development Programs can begin.
May 14-17 – NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Rookies who are typically first and/or second-round picks must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. These players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days and mini-camps during this period.
May 19-20 – Spring League Meeting in Marina Del Ray, California
June 1 – Deadline for teams to send “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned restricted free agents who received a qualifying offer.
June 15 – Deadline for teams to withdraw qualifying offer to restricted free agents and retain exclusive negotiating rights.
June, TBA – Mandatory attendance for all rookies at individual teams Rookie Transition Program.
July 15 – Deadline for a franchise player to sign a multi-year contract or extension is set for 3 p.m. After this date, the player may only sign a one-year contract for 2020.
July, TBA – Teams can open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
- Veteran players (other than quarterbacks or injured players) with at least one pension-credited season can report to a team’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
- Veteran quarterbacks and injured players can be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately before the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players.
July 22 – Signing period for transition tagged players ends.
Signing period for unrestricted free agents who were offered “May 7 Tender” ends.
August 6 – Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
August 6-9 – Pro Football Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton, Ohio.
August 11 – If a drafted rookie hasn’t been signed by his team, he can’t be traded to another team in 2020.
August 13 – Preseason Week 1 begins.
August 20 – Preseason Week 2 begins.
August 27 -Preseason Week 3 begins.
September 3 – Preseason ends
September 5 – All teams must trim their active rosters to 53 by 3 p.m.
September 6 – The claiming period for players placed on waivers on August 31 expires at 11 a.m.
Teams may create a 10-player practice squad starting on this date.
September 10 – Regular season football begins again!